As the leaders in the Transat Jacques Vabre wriggled their way out of the doldrums and into the last 1,000 miles from Le Havre to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Mike Golding and Brian Thompson in Ecover were looking both optimistically ahead and anxiously behind.
The British pair had halved the distance on the French leaders, Jean-Pierre Dick and Nicolas Abiven in Virbac, to 100 miles and moved into second place. But they have lost the use of their third and final spinnaker and know that the Anglo-French pairing of Alex Thomson and Roland Jourdain in Sill are only 14 miles behind with fortunes still changing rapidly under differing wind conditions.
"Finally we have arrived in the zone, feared for its calms and equally feared but less well known for its violent squalls," Golding said. "We have held our own and feel rightly pleased."
Team Cowes, with Nick Moloney and Sam Davies, moved up to fourth place but with only a three-mile advantage over Vincent Riou and Jérémie Beyou in PRB. Groupama, crewed by Franck Cammas and Franck Proffit, kept up a handy lead in the multihull division and could finish tomorrow. Ellen MacArthur and Alain Gautier, in Foncia, are 11th, 400 miles astern.
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